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I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to do much of anything except revisions on the book I’m writing with my sister, Whistling Woman, about our great aunt Bessie’s life growing up in Hot Springs, NC, at the turn of the 20th century.  It’s finished.  Yay!  But now comes the hard part; editing and revising.  I usually don’t like that part but with this one, I’m really looking forward to doing the final edits because Christy and I are planning on meeting in Hot Springs when we get to that point.  Another yay!

At the same time, I’m still polishing my older woman/younger man contemporary romance novella, Strict Policies.  And when all that editing gets to be too much, I’m working on the next book in my Eternal Shadows series, Sun Shadows.  Really hope I get this one finished quicker than I did the second one!

Other than that, I’ve been canning quite a bit–my pantry is overflowing!–and putting the garden to bed for the winter–just in time, we had our first frost last night.  Des and I are still walking every day and we’re really enjoying it…for the most part.  Had an encounter with the wicked witch of the neighborhood yesterday but more on that later.  That little event deserves an entire blog post all its own!

I got a great review for Storm Shadows the other day from Amelia Richard at Cata Romance.  4.5 stars!  Yippee!  Here’s Amelia’s teaser:  STORM SHADOWS makes the supernatural seem genuinely real with clever writing and an innovative premise.

Finally, I have an interview up on Susan Whitfield’s blog today.  Lots of fun to do–and believe me I didn’t think I’d ever say that about an interview!  Hope you’ll drop by and check it out!

Back to the edits…

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You know that old saying, “It never rains, but it pours”?  That’s my life right now what with the holiday season–which I dearly love–, today’s release of my e-book, Unwilling Angel, the two contests I’m participating in, a couple of new author groups I’ve joined, my sister and mom coming to visit next week–which means I really need to get busy and clean this messy house!–, and finally, an on-line workshop that I’m taking at Cata Network Writers Group.

The workshop, put on by Susan Meier, is all about setting goals.  I’m hoping it will be the kick in the pants I need to get my current WIPs finished and get the manuscripts that are complete submitted.  Don’t know if it will, but I’m enjoying the workshop and Ms. Meier is certainly giving it her all.  Lots of good tips and suggestions that–hopefully!–will serve to get a confirmed procrastinator like me out of this slump I’ve been in lately when it comes to writing and/or submitting.

Anyway, the real reason behind this post is my ongoing love affair with the Cata Network.  Seriously, if you’re a romance author and you haven’t checked out everything Cata has to offer, you really should.  They have a slew of sites with just about everything a romance author needs to know.  Cata University is my favorite and you can find all their other sites from there.

If you’re interested in Susan Meier’s workshop on setting goals, hop on over the the Cata Nerwork Writers group and join!  It’s quick and easy and most important to aspiring writers, free!

And don’t forget to check out the contest I’m participating in which is sponsored by Cata.  It’s on the stickie post at the top of my blog.  You can’t miss it!

One of the hot topics this week on romance blogs and groups is whether or not RWA (Romance Writers of America) membership is worth the yearly dues.  Interesting for me because I’ve been debating that same thing, especially now that RWA announced they’re thinking of raising the price for members.  Truthfully, I was considering just letting my membership lapse when it comes time to write that check next year and now, if they do decide to raise the yearly dues, I have to say I probably will do just that. 

Still, there are a lot of benefits to being an RWA member, but the only one I seem to get anything out of with any regularity is RWR, their monthly magazine.  I’m fully aware that I could get more bang for my buck if I would take advantage of all that they offer with their on-line site.  And it would certainly help if I joined a local chapter…but the nearest one to me is about three hours away and that’s not even in North Carolina, it’s in Tennessee.  There are two chapters in NC, but they’re both on the other side of the state, one in Charlotte and one in Raleigh, and both are even farther away than the one in Tennessee.

And I have to wonder why there isn’t a local chapter in Asheville?  Do all the romance writers in NC really live over in the eastern part of the state?  Probably not, but apparently all the ones interested in joining a local chapter don’t mind the drive.  I do so this morning I went on the RWA site and looked at what it takes to start a local chapter.  Even came up with a name for it, Blue Ridge Romance Writers, and RWA has all the information you need to start a local chapter, but the big question is; do I really have the time?  Not to mention, would it benefit me to get involved in something which has the potential to be very time-consuming and energy-draining?

I think it probably would, but I need to do more research and find some way of figuring out if there would be enough interest in a chapter for the authors who live in the western part of the state like I do.  I do know it would be a lot of work and until I get the edits done on Storm Shadows, I’m not willing to shift my focus to something else.  Once that’s done, I plan on going back on the RWA site and check out just what and how I would go about doing it, because given all the members who commented that they get more out of their local chapter than the national chapter, I think it might be a good idea.

On another note, I received an email the other day, The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter, from Author Marketing Experts.  I don’t remember signing up for this one, but I have to say, I’m glad I did.  As well as putting out a great newsletter, they have a blog and a site run by Penny C. Sansevieri, which is just chock-full of information on how to market your books.  You can sign up for the newsletter on Ms. Sansevieri’s site.  Check it out, I think you’ll be glad you did!

I haven’t written much about baseball lately–well, okay, I admit I haven’t written much about anything at all lately, still busy with the move and all–but with less than 30 games left in the regular season, to quote John Fogerty, we’re “rounding third and heading for home”!  Tampa Bay is in first place in the AL East–kudos to the Rays!–and Boston is clinging to the lead in the Wildcard race with um…Minnesota(?) close behind.  I’m pretty sure Tampa’s all but sewn up the AL East, but I haven’t given up my team and am currently driving my husband bananas singing Tessie at every opportunity!  Hey, it worked last year, who’s to say it won’t work this year?

My favorite player is no longer a part of the Boston Red Sox but has packed his bags and headed for La-la Land.  Too bad.  I’ll miss you, Manny.  Probably the only Red Sox fan who will, especially after the questionable behavior of your last few days with Boston, but well, you know those rabid fangirl crushes, they’re not the easiest thing to get over.  And while I no longer love you, I still like you.  Fair warning though, if you cut your hair as Joe Torre reportedly asked you to do, it’s all over with for me.

Okay, enough of baseball.  At this point the only thing I can do is follow the games and hope while I sing my heart out.  Moving on to my life as an author.  I’ve been doing a little bit of promotion and plan to step it up next week, when all the reviews should be in and posted on the different sites.  Mostly I’ve been concentrating on researching and have found some interesting places to either promote my book or learn about the best way to promote.  Top among these is this little gem:  AdaptiveBlue’s Book Widgets.  If you have a book out, send them an email and they’ll make a widget which contains all the info about your book, including the all-important buy sites, that you can place on your website, MySpace, etc.  And it’s free!  Can’t beat that!  I haven’t emailed them yet, but I’ve heard some good things about their work and it’s at the top of my list.  Thanks to fellow L&L Dreamspell author, Denise Robbins for the tip!  She also sent along the URL for SpringWidgets, a site where you can get a widget for your blog.  Yep, that one’s on my list too!

I’m to the point where I’m ordering curtains for the house, hanging what pictures I can hang before I put up curtains, and wading through the last items I unpacked as I try to get everything organized.  Bleh!  I never want to move again.  And I do mean NEVER!

In the middle of all this, I’ve been working with a cover artist from Red Rose Publishing on the cover for my upcoming ebook, Unwilling Angel, which should be released in early September.  Had to go with a CGI cover for this one–the first time I’ve ever had one of those!  I don’t really like CGI covers, but the cover artist did a really good job and did her best to follow my suggestions and give me everything I wanted.  Still, I had a nightmare last night where the cover was picked up by a couple of blogs, primarily Judge a Book by its Cover, and snarked unmercifully.  JaBbyC is a blog written by a fellow North Carolinian, who’s a librarian in Asheville, and I love her blog because it’s always good for a chuckle or two.  Anyway, I know my nightmare probably won’t happen and I fully admit to being an idiot and a Nervous Nellie when it comes to my covers, but really, this one has me biting my nails–a habit I gave up back in high school!–and I fully expect the hair-pulling, screaming heebie-jeebies to hit soon.  So, I’m going to post the cover here on this blog and I invite all you snarkers to have a go!

Okay, I’ll start.  The guy standing up?  What the hell happened to his feet?  And why does he look like he’s backlit by a spotlight?  *raising hand high and waving*  He’s actually an angel, hence the backlighting which gives him a nice halo-effect–my favorite part of the cover, actually–and his feet are either buried in the snow or he’s in the process of fading away back to Heaven, feet first!

*snerk*  Okay, got that out of my system and I just want to say thanks to Marteeka, the cover artist, who was a real joy to work with and even with my inexplicable–and often unjustifiable–hatred of CGI covers, I really like this one.  You are, in my eyes, a fabulous cover artist, not to mention a really patient and nice person! 

And finally, with Snow Shadows already out and the unexpected early release of Unwilling Angel, I’ve been trying to come up with promotion ideas which include both of them.  Not an easy thing to do, especially when you can’t decide what genre Unwilling Angel falls under.  When I sent it to the publisher, I submitted it as a sweet paranormal romance.

The thing is…it’s one of those books, well, a novella actually, that doesn’t slip neatly into one recognized genre.  I mean, sure, it’s a romance, but just barely.  Emma doesn’t meet her “man” until the next to last chapter and she only kisses him once, at the very end of the story.  It doesn’t have the traditional HEA, but more of a HFN.  And as for the angel element in the story, I can’t find a definitive genre for that.  I’ve seen books about angels listed as paranormal and fantasy, but I don’t know.  Beyond the heroine’s limited psychic abilities which save the day in the end, there’s nothing paranormal about this book.  As for fantasy…nope, doesn’t fit there either. 

*sigh*  Maybe I should just label it a sweet romance and leave it at that.  I hate labels anyway.

Okay, so I’ve been playing around on Loldogs.  Guilty as charged, but after reading this post by Lisa Alber on her blog, Lisa’s Words at Play, I started thinking about self-doubt and wondering why so many writers seem to suffer from it.  Then yesterday, I spent a good part of the day reading through the final line edits on my novella, Unwilling Angel, which will be published as an e-book soon and ugh!  Self-doubt reared its ugly snout and took a huge bite out of my ass!

A little back story here, the main character in Unwillling Angel is an aspiring writer who’s struggling with writer’s block.  She’s been working on a YA book since the death of her husband two years before and she’s convinced she has to finish it.  She’s riddled with self-doubt and thinking about suicide when she sees the ghost of her favorite author, Mac McBride.  Only Mac’s not a ghost, he’s an Apprentice Angel sent by the Archangels to help her get her life straightened out.

So, in addition to Lisa’s blog entry, this book has a heroine who is filled with self-doubt, and as I was reading through the final line edits file, I found myself…questioning, deliberating, and thinking of ways I could have written it better, tighter, or even funnier.  In a word, doubting.  And even though I know it’s too late to make any major changes, that doesn’t keep me from wanting to do just that.  

The thing is…I think I could read this book, or actually, any one of the things I’ve written, a million times or more, polishing it with every read-through, and still find things I think need to be changed.  Which got me to thinking, do multi-published authors do the same thing?  Do they suffer from the self-doubt demon?  Does Stephen King?  Nora Roberts?  John Grisham?  Did Shakespeare?  Charles Dickens?  Mark Twain?  What about poets like Emily Dickinson?  e. e. cummings?  Shel Silverstein?

I can’t say for sure because this is only my fourth book–well, really my third since this one was published very briefly before and I guess I shouldn’t count it twice.  It’ll probably be a while before I know the answer to that one, if I ever do, but I have to say, I think maybe they do.  I think, like DeAnna said in the comments on Lisa’s blog, it’s probably hardwired into all authors.  One thing I do know for sure is that right now self-doubt is pretty much a constant companion for me…and I can’t imagine it will ever go away completely.

But that’s okay, I can live with that.  Especially when the self-doubt demon might just work in my favor by making me a better writer.

BTW, my book cover is up on Amazon.  Woo-hoo!  Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it yet.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Why not buy a copy and beat the dog-days of summer by frolicking in the Snow Shadows on Eternity Mountain with Matt and Ellen?

<Sorry, couldn’t resist that little bit of BSP!>

 

What do you do with a character who refuses to do what you want her to do?  Do you force her to fall into line or do you just throw up your hands and let her go the way she wants?

I’m in a down and dirty catfight with one of those right now and it’s driving me crazy.  Not so much the fact that she’s winning, though I’ll admit that has me a feeling just the teensiest bit peeved, but when I read back over what I’ve written each day, I know she’s right.  And damn it, I find it hard to argue with that.   

The thing is…I’ve been told by numerous people, all who know a lot more about writing than I do, that a writer should never, never let the characters take charge of the story.  Yet, it seems with every book I write, there’s at least one character that does exactly that.  And it’s something of a major struggle for me to make that particular character behave according to an outline or the vague guidelines I have in my head and the pithy notes I’ve scrawled on scraps of paper and scattered all over my office.

This character, one Betty Sue Corn–and some day I’ll have to tell you the story of how I got her name, it’s a good one–is a timid, logical, don’t-rock-the-boat kind of woman.  She’s approaching forty, an old-maid librarian at a middle school, and considers herself practical and extremely ordinary.  But when I got her up on Eternity Mountain, the setting for my Eternal Shadows series, and she met Marc, the hero of the story, she turned into a  smart-ass, daring, and at times, flatout bitchy woman.  And let me tell you, I just know she’s not going to be happy if she doesn’t get to be a kick-ass heroine in the end.

But this is a romance.  A paranormal romance, which gives you a bit of leeway with the characters, but a romance, all the same.  The hero’s supposed to rescue the heroine, right?  Well, yeah, but she’s not having any of that!  And given a number of posts I’ve read recently on the romance blogs, and the comments made on them, readers are getting tired of the hero always being the one who saves the day.  So, maybe I should let her do what she wants to do, let her be the white knight, so to speak.  God knows, I did it in the first book of the series, Snow Shadows.  No, I’m not going to give away anything and I hope you’ll forgive this bit of BSP (blatant self-promotion), but the heroine in Snow Shadows, Ellen, doesn’t just lay down and whimper when her happy ending is challenged.  She fights back, or at least tries to.

Difference is, that was my idea, not the character’s!  But Betty Sue has a mind of her own, she’s taking this book in directions I never intended it to go.  And I don’t know whether to be glad that she’s keeping me from the dreaded “midway hump” or flat-out pissed about it.  All I know is the working title for this one, Storm Shadows, is turning out to be the perfect choice for this book because she sure is stirring up a storm of massive proportions in my brain.

<sigh>  I guess I’ll just have to wait till the dust settles to see how this one turns out.

 

The ladies over at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books and Dear Author offer up a special treat for me today; the DA BWAHA Tournament, a March Madness bracket-type contest for the romance lover/sports fan in all of us.  Details can be found at either of the sites.

Basketball isn’t my sport, baseball is what does it for me–with a little football thrown in during the off-season–but while I wait for the official start of baseball season and agonize over the fact that my team will be winging their way to Japan today–I’m one of those who believes if God had meant for us to fly, he would’ve given us wings–I can entertain myself and keep my mind off of plane crashes, thanks to the creativeness of the Smart Bitches and Dear Author.

Wow!  That was some run-on sentence, wasn’t it?  Deep breath…

The thing is…who knew there were so many sports fans out there in Romance Land?  I mean, I’ve caught mention of sports–mainly football or soccer–several times on the romance blogs I frequent, but, this just blew me away!  If you look at the bracket set-up, it’s obvious SB and DA put a lot of thought into this thing.  It’s awesome and should be loads of fun as we wait not so patiently for baseball season to start.

Check it out–before seven pm, EST today.  Sorry for the short notice, I’ve been AWOL for the last couple of days working on the blurb for the back cover of Snow Shadows–less than five months till the release!–and excerpts from a couple of my upcoming books which Lisa and Linda at L&L Dreamspell generously offered to add to the back pages–woo-hoo!

To the Red Sox–safe trip!

Update:  Deadline for bracket entries has been extended to midnight EST!  Details and everything you ever needed to know about DB BWAHA here.  Go on, click on it!   

A funny thing happened to me on MySpace today…and I’m scared.  Well, okay, more amused than scared…actually, more rolling on the floor gasping for breath as I mop the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard, than amused.  I was minding my own business, taking a break from writing and I found a couple of notices from MySpace that I had a new friend request and a new message from someone named *Jojo*.  *Jojo*?  Never heard of her, but the title of her message gave me a clue as to how she felt about me: “Your (sic) a bitch.”

First thing I did was roll my eyes at the “your”.  I mean, come on, my second graders know better than that.  Strike that, I don’t want to lower myself to her level and I really don’t want to get a reputation as an “ABB” (Author Behaving Badly), although she apparently doesn’t have anything against being labeled a RBB (Reader Behaving Badly). 

So, what did she have to say?  Well, I’ll let you read it for yourself–while I go get another tissue for all these tears I’m shedding:

Ok, look. Just because you are an “author” which, by the way, I have NEVER heard of you before today. I only came across your name today because I was looking for Cassie Edwards online and happened to come across your little tangent. Seems to me, you are a little jealous that you are not selling as many books as Ms. Edwards. I happen to love her books, and no I do not get my history lessons from her. I do not read them for the history, I read them because they are fascinating stories. I have probably read every one of her books. And will probably NEVER read one of yours. Cassie Edwards is a name that is in many homes across the United States, yours, like I said, I have NEVER heard of.So, just a little advice from an AVID Cassie Edwards reader, get off your high horse and get a life. Stop bitching about other people’s work and work on getting yours known!So, I’m not entitled to my opinion, huh?  Well, sorry, but if you’re a fan of Cassie Edwards, you have to take the bad with the good–and there’s a lot more bad than good to be said about Ms. Edwards these days.  She’s a proven plagiarist and in my book, you can’t sink much lower than that.  I’ve never read any of her books, and never will, because I have no desire to read someone who not only steals words instead of writing her own, but manages to insult Native Americans every time she puts out a book and titles it “Savage” something or other.

 

As far as you never having heard of me, well, no surprise there, I haven’t been around anywhere near as long as Ms. Edwards.  But I promise you, if you ever do “hear” of me, it won’t be because I stole from other authors to make my name.  I may write romance, as does Ms. Edwards, but that’s about the only thing I have in common with her.

And really, do you mind if I ask what you hoped to gain by sending me such a nasty message?  I don’t know for sure, but if I were in Ms. Edwards’ shoes, I’d be cringing at this kind of meangirl attitude from my fans.  Not that I haven’t seen this kind of behavior before, I have, on SB/TB, DA, and numerous other romance blogs (I’ll include some helpful links for you at the bottom of this post), but I have to tell you, you’re not helping her case any when you pull stunts like this.  In fact, you’re only making her look worse in the eyes of romance readers everywhere.  Not to mention, degrading the genre and everyone associated with it.

Oh, by the way, the new friend request came from Al Cole, a DJ/musician/author in Boston–Go Red Sox!–who has the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen.  Seriously gorgeous!  I might have to use those eyes in my next book.  He also has a great voice and his music ain’t too bad either.  His tagline: “May your heart be inspired to love.”  Maybe you should take a look at his page, read the excerpts from his new book, Romance for Women, and listen to his music–it just might mellow you out a bit.  Or just stare into those sexy blue eyes and dream for a while…

Or maybe not.  Anyway, here are those links:

Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books: http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/.  There are numerous posts there, just type “Cassie Edwards” in the search engine, or you can start with the file in the upper right-hand corner.  Fair warning though, it paints a pretty repulsive picture.

Dear Author: http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/.  Again, type “Cassie Edwards” in the search engine and you’ll find numerous posts dealing with what she did.

And if that’s not enough to convince you…well, I don’t have any idea what would. 

One more thing, I didn’t report you to MySpace this time, but I’m not making any promises if you do this again.  You’re not welcome in my world so…

Go.  Away.

My husband’s out of town on a business trip and when he calls tonight, I hate to have to do it, but I’m going to have to break his heart.  You see, I’ve fallen in love with another man.

And not just any man, the man of my dreams.  A tall, dark, gorgeous hunk of perfection who stepped out of the shadowy  world of my fantasies and into my life.  He’s been with me for a while now, though I’d never met him, never so much as glimpsed his face.  But as winter melts into spring, he emerged from the Snow Shadows, held out his hand, and…well, I just couldn’t help myself.

Don’t judge me until you get a look at him and then we’ll see who’s drooling!  Here he is for your viewing pleasure, but I warn you, I’m very territorial, so hands off ladies!

ss2207.jpg

His name’s Mathias Tassel and yes, he does have a brother.  Three of them, in fact, and they’re all as delicious as he is!  But their stories are living in my head for the time being.  Right now, I only have eyes for Matt!

Thanks to Linda and Lisa of L&L Dreamspell who gave me the chance to make my dreams reality!

Well okay, not so much here in the mountains where it’s another rainy cold day, but in Florida, with less than a week to go until the first game, baseball is definitely getting warmer because…Manny’s in the house!  For the first time since 2005, Manny arrived on time for Spring training, and from his statements to the press he’s ready to play and looking forward to this season.

Could it be his last as a Boston Red Sox?  I have a hard time believing that and hope it won’t happen.  But then, as everyone knows, I’m a Manny Fan Girl.  I just can’t imagine the Red Sox without him, can’t imagine watching a game where there isn’t the Big Papi/Manny threat hovering over the opposing pitcher’s head, can’t imagine a time when another player will take on the job of taming Fenway’s Green Monster.

The Red Sox without Manny?  Say it ain’t so–ever!

And then there’s Jacoby Ellsbury.  I caught an informative and interesting article about him in Men’s Vogue the other day.  Did you know he’s the first Navajo to play in the Major Leagues?  Just another reason for me to appreciate him.  I’m not an official FG of his yet, but the more I learn about him the more I like him and I can see myself becoming one, especially after reading the article.  Here it is if you’d like to read it:

http://www.mensvogue.com/health/feature/articles/2008/03/jacoby?currentPage=1

Like I said, very interesting.  Put longer hair on him and he could be the cover model for the book I have coming out later this year, Snow Shadows.  Yep, he could be my Cherokee shape-shifter, Matt, especially since he spent his time in the off-season beefing up.

Hmmm, I wonder if he’d be open to posing for a pic of a paranormal romance hero who, in my editor’s words is “SO HOT!”  (hee-hee, I’ve been giggling over that little tidbit for days!)

The thing is…I’m about 50 pages into the next book, Storm Shadows (working title), and now I’m starting to worry about making the hero of this one, Matt’s brother Marc, “HOT!”  Can I do it?  Well, the only thing to do is write the story.  And now that I have a picture in my head of Jacoby Ellsbury, I think that will help immensely because the brothers in each of the four books in this series look very much alike, about the only difference being the color of their eyes and the length of their hair.  Jacoby’s is still shorter than Marc’s, but not by much.

So thanks, Jacoby, for the inspiration!

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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